If you’ve got animals that need to be organized, the Border Collie is your friend. Since at least the late 19th century, the iconic black and white friends of shepherds have done the job better than any human could. And their natural ingenuity is being utilized to keep goats and tourists safe at Logan Pass.
Inappropriate tourist interactions with the mountain goats in the popular tourist destination in Montana’s Glacier National Park was starting to make park staff uncomfortable.
“As far as we know, there have been no reports of anybody getting injured, but there are some pretty eyebrow-raising interactions that we see of people getting too close for a picture or surrounding the goat and cutting her off from her kid,” the park’s Mark Biel told the Daily Interlake. “They’re still wild animals and unpredictable.”
Biel’s own dog, Gracie, is a border collie and the idea occurred to him after he learned that the same breed was being used to keep deer away from populated areas at Waterton Lakes National Park.
“I saw that and thought, ‘Why can’t we do something like that here?’ I have a dog that’s bred to do that, I wonder if that would work,” Biel said.
Gracie’s training has already started – a method that will involve slow, constant pressure to keep the goats back, rather than abrasive chasing.
“We’re just talking about moving them a safe distance away from the edge, so visitors can still see the goats from 50 or 100 yards away,” Biel told the Daily Interlake. “The plan is not to completely remove these animals or keep them away for the area.”
We’re always excited to learn about new technology being utilized or developed to prevent wildlife conflict. But it’s good to know that land managers can look to the past to find common sense solutions to keep everyone – two-legged and four – safe.